WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS

 

FRONT PAGE BREAKING NEWS

News in support of successful living: business & economy, health & wellness, education, youth, the arts, politics, sustainability & social trends. Featuring news of the west side of Vancouver Island. 

Deeper stories and local news:   BC & NATIONAL | VANCOUVER ISLAND | LANGFORD | COLWOOD | VIEW ROYAL | METCHOSIN | SOOKE | JUAN de FUCAEVENTS


 

BC Attorney General David Eby

Tuesday, May 22 ~ BC. British Columbia files constitutional challenge of Alberta legislation. 

The Government of British Columbia has filed a statement of claim in Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench. The Attorney General of BC is bringing this action, based on public interest standing on behalf of British Columbians, challenging the constitutionality of Alberta’s Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act.

The Alberta legislation passed last week (May 16, 2018) would require export licences be obtained by Alberta companies for the export of natural gas, crude oil, and refined fuels such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel — with a fine of $10 million per day for companies and $1 million per day for individuals.

Today May 22, BC Attorney General David Eby told media that preventing Alberta oil products from reaching Northern and remote BC communities would be detrimental to those communities that rely on diesel for electricity generation and boat transportation. Trucks that ship goods out of the Port of Vancouver to all parts of BC would be impacted by a lack of diesel, therefore impacting the supply of various goods around the province.

Eby told media that BC in its reference to the BC Supreme Court is “seeking adequate protections in the event of a spill, and if there is a spill, to clean it up”. He says BC wants “to ensure those things are in place, not to stop or prevent the pipeline”.

“We want to ensure that (environmental) protections are in place when the pipeline is built and turned on,” Eby told media at the noon hour today. He said that Alberta’s legislation to stop delivery of refined fuel to BC is apparently “a punishment for our reference case” but that Alberta’s legislation is “on its face unconstitutional”. Eby said the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Comeau case (out of New Brunswick, in April) that government can’t use trade policy to punish other provinces.

Eby says it’s unlikely that Alberta will actually use their new Bill 12 legislation, given that it’s unconstitutional.

The complete statement of claim by BC in response to Alberta’s legislation that would be used to stop delivery of refined fuel to BC is available online: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Statement_of_Claim_Final.pdf


 

View of the Belmont Residences sales centre and surrounding construction site, from the other side of Jenkins Road, May 18. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Monday, May 21 ~ LANGFORD. There is no lack of interest for the opportunity to live in the growing Langford area. As the city grows, people are seeking the west side lifestyle in locations that are convenient and affordable. [View this article on its own page]

It was only May 5 when the Sales Centre opened at Belmont Residences in west Langford and already about 500 groups have come through to see the show suite and find out more about suites available in the 80-unit Phase 1 condo building.

“Currently we are in the preview stage of the program,” says Peter Gaby, sales director with DFH Real Estate Ltd. Sales start in the first half of June; appointments recommended for interest in early purchase.

“People view the sales centre which has the architectural model, wall graphics and digital screens outlining the product offering, the master plan and points of interest in the area as well as a 2-bedroom-plus-flex fully merchandised show suite,” Gaby said this week. The flex room is a popular feature which can be used for a home office, hobby room, exercise room or storage.

Construction for new commercial and residential continues on the Belmont site on Division Avenue in Langford, May 17. [West Shore Voice News photo]

Most comments from sales centre visitors have been positive. “The location, the design layout and functionality of the suites, the quality and attention to detail in the suites in a master plan community is what they are most impressed with,” Gaby says.

People are glad to hear that the 160,000 sq ft of commercial/retail space will be completed prior to Belmont Residences occupancy in early 2020. That includes Thrifty Foods grocery store as the main anchor tenant.

The sales centre is located on Division Ave (just off Jenkins/Kelly) across from the Westshore Town Centre.

www.belmontresidences.com


 

Ms Meghan Markle enters St George’s Chapel to marry Prince Harry [May 19 2018]

Saturday, May 19 ~ WORLD. EDITORIAL ~ social insights into a modern royal wedding [read this editorial on a separate page]

In a Saturday noon-hour ceremony, Britain’s Prince Harry and American self-styled career actress Meghan Markle tied the knot this weekend, on May 19, 2018. It was a celebrity moment that broke some molds.

Upon marriage, together they became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Successful in her own right, it was a major statement of independence by Ms Markle to join by choice one of the world’s oldest ‘family businesses’. Among other things she apparently broke with tradition at the private evening reception by giving a speech (a job normally reserved for the guys).

For many it was a social spectacle of the year, reportedly viewed worldwide by about 2 billion people on TV/livestream and stirring up giddy excitement on the ground with about 100,000 people packing into the centuries-old town of Windsor (population 32,000) to be a part of or catch a glimpse of the pageantry.

Royal watcher or not, this event caught the attention of many — for reasons old and new. The traditional reasons to gaze upon this orchestration of course include support of the monarchy, a belief in fairy tale endings, or just plain entertainment (the bride’s dress, the fascinators worn by guests, and who was there).

The new reasons are far more intriguing, and Markle has indeed given sparkle to a new edge in societal decision-making. For starters, she veritably shrugs off all the narrow-minded fluff about her bi-racial heritage. But most dramatically she made powerful statements with simple actions, like choosing to enter the cathedral and walk most of the way down the aisle on her own with no man taking her arm as she was about to forever end her previous life.

Yeah, at first it seemed a bit weird when she requested that her future father-in-law Prince Charles walk her the rest of the way down the aisle. But in a way, that forced her hand upon the family, rather than the other way around. What a perfect match, this Markle for the son of the late Princess Diana who is still given far too little credit for setting the monarchy onto a modernizing pathway to the 21st century (primarily by raising her two sons to see and interact with the real world).

It appears Markle appreciates her new position as a means to further the social causes that are important to her. It’s an intelligent and gutsy choice, underpinned by love of her man. The strength it will take for the new duchess to pull this off long-term is the storyline we now get to see unfold. Hats off to Harry for opening the door to this bold new adventure.


 

BC Environment Minister George Heyman [Dec 2017 file photo – West Shore Voice News]

Thursday, May 17 ~ BC. As part of keeping its cool in the Trans Mountain pipeline faceoff taking place among the federal government, BC and Alberta, BC sent a letter today to the federal government, including shared priorities.  [View this article on its own page]

BC wants improvements to oceans protection. The federal government says it sees environmental protection going hand in hand with building the economy.

This week Finance Minister Bill Morneau dropped a lead weight of blame on BC Premier Horgan as the reason that the federal government, as part of announcing that it will provide financial support to Kinder Morgan for the challenged pipeline project. The funding is stapled to the project, so if Kinder Morgan bails, a new proponent would have the same advantage.

Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna.

George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy sent the 3-page letter (plus 2-page appendix listing several meetings with DFO,the coast guard, environment ministry, national energy board, and more) to his federal counterpart, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

Heyman’s letter, in response to correspondence received from McKenna on April 26, 2018, can be viewed here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/316322_McKenna_FINAL_SIGNED.PDF

Heyman has outlined differences, as well as individual and shared priorities, of both governments related to protecting BC’s environment and economy from the effects of a catastrophic oil spill.

He has also suggested areas where the federal government needs to do more in areas of its jurisdiction, including improvements to the federal government’s Oceans Protection Plan.

Heyman has also proposed ways both governments can cooperate on their respective research regarding the behaviour of spilled heavy oils, as wells as ways to jointly improve environmental protection.


BC Premier John Horgan at the 3rd Annual #BCTech Summit that is hosted by the BC Government. [Twitter photo May 16, 2018]

Wednesday, May 16 ~ BC. To help spark innovation, economic growth and new jobs in BC, the provincial government is investing in tech-based research and advanced training opportunities in all parts of the province, Premier John Horgan announced today at the #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver.

“BC succeeds when British Columbians succeed – and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

The Province announced that it is investing over $102.6 million in funding for 75 post-secondary research projects, through the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop BC’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced super-computing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, $12 million will be invested in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years, to support the priority STEM (science, tech, engineering and mathematics) programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to BC, government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot: priority processing for people in tech occupations (e.g. biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers).

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of BC’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The B.C. government will unveil a province-wide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make BC a great place to live and work.

The third-annual #BCTECH Summit May 14-16 has been hosted by the BC Government in partnership with Innovate BC (a crown agency) which encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of BC industry.


 

Premier John Horgan at Victoria Chamber of Commerce event at Crystal Garden, May 15 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, May 16 ~ VICTORIA. BC Premier John Horgan has released the following statement on the federal government’s Trans Mountain pipeline investor compensation:

“We are standing up for British Columbia’s environment, economy and our coast against the threat of a bitumen spill, and we are doing so entirely within our rights.

“The federal finance minister is trying to use our government as an excuse, as the federal government puts taxpayer money on the line to backstop risks to private investors, while completely ignoring the risks to BC. The fact is, we’ve been issuing permits in a fair and timely manner, and have proposed new regulations that are now referred to court to confirm our jurisdiction.

“We are acting well within BC’s rights to defend our environment, and the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity that depend on it.”

Yesterday during a speech at a Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Victoria, Horgan took the opportunity to express positive support for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as a fellow NDP leader, acknowledging it’s her job to represent the economic interests of her province (vis-a-vis the pipeline issue). But he added: “I am not convinced that we are prepared to deal with the consequences of a diluted bitumen spill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, around the Gulf Islands and in Burrard Inlet. We need to find a balance — my responsibility is to the people in this room and the people who are coming here “attracted by the pristine environment” (i.e. tourism).

Horgan reiterated his view that raw bitumen should go to refineries in Canada “to help people” in the local economy instead of being shipped overseas. He said that the federal 10-year commitment of $1.5 billion on three coasts of the largest coastline on the planet is not a lot of funding should anything go wrong.

Today NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on behalf of the federal NDP that “billions of tax dollars are being used to write a blank cheque to a Texas oil company and its shareholders”.

While a handout from government seems like it should sweeten the pot, business pundits have suggested that a corporation does not always welcome the hand of government in their accounting processes or boardroom.

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued Canada’s official welcome and congratulations on the birth of the third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The timing is notable because the Prime Minister’s news release highlights the royal couple’s 2016 visit to Haida Gwaii, noting the pristine environment of BC that was visited there during the tour. In other words, a nod to the importance of BC’s pristine coast.


 

Wednesday, May 16 ~ SOOKE. Tonight the Sooke community will see the architectural designs for their new library. At last. [View this article on its own page]

Although a new library for the growing town has been officially at the top of the priority list for the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) board since about 2012, the procession of steps to getting a new building has been plagued with financial delays and political complications, even missteps. Meanwhile, a rented premise (considered a costly alternative) has continued on Anna Marie Road within town centre.

The snags have had mostly to do with finding land upon which to build the library (and all the politics involved with that). VIRL puts up libraries at their own cost but the municipality must provide the land. The VIRL business model to produce libraries this way pushed their 27 or so member communities into a new paradigm of doing business.

Sooke Council for all their pontification about supporting the community, for years seemingly gagged at the thought of providing land for free (despite the obvious benefits of moving ahead with a facility that serves a broad range or purposes in a community, well beyond loaning out books).

The District of Sooke Mayor in 2011-2014 was Wendal Milne; the mayor since 2014 has been Maja Tait. Through all this period, the District of Sooke rep to the VIRL board has been Sooke Councillor Kerrie Reay.

Finally a few years ago — with some political muscle input by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks at the VIRL board table — the District of Sooke bought a section of previous farmland along Wadams Way (which runs parallel to Sooke Road). Called ‘Lot A’, that land is now a crown jewel for the District of Sooke (positioned behind Evergreen Shopping Centre it could effectively expand town centre). Within Lot A, a section has been shaved off for VIRL to get on with building a new 10,000 sq.ft. facility, a swath of natural growth forest felled and all.

Tonight at 5:30 pm the proposed new architectural designs for the new library will be unveiled in the humble digs that are the lower level of Sooke Community Hall. At 6:30 pm (to 8 pm) VIRL will make a formal presentation and take questions. Open to the public. Given the local interest in this long-awaited evolution, the downstairs level at the community hall will probably be packed to overflowing.


 

BC Premier John Horgan addressed Chamber of Commerce members in Victoria May 15 [West Shore Voice News photo]

Tuesday, May 15 ~ VICTORIA. [View this article on a separate page]. It was a tough crowd for an NDP Premier — a room packed with about 400 chamber of commerce members and business leaders at the Crystal Garden in downtown Victoria — who at least in part would be expected to take some issue with the left-leaning policies of Premier John Horgan’s NDP government.

In less than one year in office, Horgan has rapidly rolled out numerous policy adjustments and new directions for British Columbia that are changing the socioeconomic landscape of the province in notable ways.

In a nutshell, that’s to make life more affordable for all British Columbians, he is oft heard to say. But that has come with almost seismic shifts in some areas of taxation — some that businesses consider punitive (such as the Employer Health Tax) but others that ‘help’ such as eliminating PST on electricity for businesses by 2019 and reducing the small business tax rate from 2.5% to 2.0%.

A seasoned, relaxed speaker, Horgan was comfortable at the podium but was careful to put a business or economic context around every potentially controversial portion of his 35-minute speech.

He covered the gamut from justifying the BC Speculation Tax and the shift from the Medical Services Program (MSP) to the Employer Health Tax (EHT), to defending his government’s stance spawned by the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project to protect the coastal environmental in the event of an oil spill.

At least twice he emphasized “not social policy but economic policy”, specifically with regard to providing more and better child care, and working to full reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

Victoria MP Murray Rankin was among those who attended the Chamber lunch to hear Premier Horgan’s speech May 15 [West Shore Voice News photo].

“The economy, environment and people are inextricably bound together,” said Horgan, saying that “everybody benefits” from the economic success of addressing all of those socioeconomic components of governing a thriving province like BC. Underpinning that is public education.

“Given the opportunity and tools of education we can achieve anything – the greatest tool at our disposal is public education,” Premier Horgan suggested to the crowd, referencing both K-12 and post-secondary. He was proud to remind the room that one of the first things his government did after taking office in July 2017 was to eliminate tuition fees for adult basic education and English language learning.

In the audience today were several BC Cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Carole James and Education Minister Rob Fleming. They sat with Premier Horgan at the same table as Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who at the end of the event presented Horgan with a painting by an indigenous artist from the Cowichan area.

Also present from NDP ranks were Victoria MP Murray Rankin and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison. Various municipal mayors and councillors attended, including View Royal Mayor David Screech, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, Langford Councillors Lillian Szpak and Denise Blackwell, and Oak Bay Councillor Hazel Braithwaite.

This was a five-Chamber event with members from the Greater Victoria, Saanich Peninsula, WestShore, Sooke Region and Esquimalt Chambers.

Horgan outlined how there is now — thanks to NDP housing policy — the opportunity for post-secondary to build student housing “without coming cap in hand to the treasury board”, as a way to free up housing stock in the community. This also provides housing-supply opportunities for the development and construction communities.

Langford Councillors Lillian Szpak and Denise Blackwell attended the May 15 chamber luncheon [West Shore Voice News photo]

The overall thread of the speech was to demonstrate the potential for productive interface between the social directions unfolding from the NDP and what the business community can do to benefit and prosper through attention to the well-being of people and communities. People who can find affordable places to live are therefore available for employment in high-demand business regions. Families that can access reliable quality child care can then afford for a second parent to join or rejoin the workforce.

Overall the crowd’s mood was polite and attentive. But there likely weren’t many converts to the government’s position on two things of most concernation to vocal leaders in the business community — the BC Speculation Tax and the EHT that is set to replace the outgoing MSP.

Regarding transportation congestion issues in the Greater Victoria area, Horgan was asked if he would support a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Horgan’s first noted “seeing a failure of the previous government to invest” in transportation solutions, followed by saying that he’s observed with TransLink in Vancouver that large advisory bodies can become “disconnected from the needs of the community and lean to the loudest voice at the table”.

Horgan hopes that BC Transit will “provide public opportunities for people” in Greater Victoria. He favours a non-formal provincial government lead on transportation: “We kinda got it covered here,” he said today, referring to the connections that he and Ministers Fleming, James, Popham and MLA Mitzi Dean have in the community. “We work with the CRD and local mayors and councils to try and deliver services for people,” Horgan said.

One question from the room expressed concern about losing tourism due to the pipeline dispute with Alberta. With reference made to the lunch menu including Alberta short ribs, Horgan did take the opportunity to express positive support for NDP Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, acknowledging it’s her job to represent the economic interests of her province (vis-a-vis the pipeline issue).

“I am not convinced that we are prepared to deal with the consequences of a diluted bitumen spill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Gulf Islands and Burrard Inlet,” said Horgan. “We need to find a balance — my responsibility is to the people in this room and the people who are coming here” who are “attracted by the pristine environment”. He reiterated his view that raw petroleum should go to refineries in Canada “to help people” instead of being shipped overseas. He said that the federal 10-year commitment of $1.5 billion on three coasts of the largest coastline on the planet is not a lot of funding should anything go wrong.

The big reveal of the lunchtime speech was Horgan’s commitment to making sure something is achieved with the E&N corridor, saying that trains (or an additional lane on Hwy 1) are probably not the solution to getting more commuters to and to the Victoria area core for employment. He said he is committed to “moving people”, and that he is “committed to doing that in the term of this government”.

Horgan was later asked a question from the floor…  would he support formation of a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) which has been proposed at the CRD level. He talked about getting people “out of cars” into public transit, saying it’s good for the economy to move people efficiently and effectively. Afterward, View Royal Mayor David Screech –- whose municipality is squarely in the one of the heaviest commuter traffic through-zones, said he is still in favour of reactivating trains for the E&N.

Randall Garrison, MP said that Horgan spoke directly to the business community about “issues that they care about”, adding that BC has “enviable economic success”. Indeed, Horgan knew what he was up against but he didn’t pander. Rather, he talked about his government’s plan, made arguments in support of stated policies, and answered questions in which he held his ground.

Horgan wrapped up saying he will back next year, as a way of declaring the stability of his government. The NDP (with Greens) is moving forward with many things that in a few years time will see BC and Canada looking back at a provincial socioeconomic canvas painted with new strokes that are intended to open up new opportunities for business, communities and individuals.

~ Article by Mary P Brooke, editor, West Shore Voice News


Large homes on ALR land in Richmond BC. [aerial screenshot – Global TV]

Tuesday, May 15 ~ VICTORIA.  The BC Green Party caucus is calling on the provincial government to take immediate action to stymie speculation on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land. The Green Caucus says the vote at Richmond council on Monday evening May 14 demonstrates why provincial action is needed. 

Richmond City Council decided not to reduce the size of so-called ‘megahomes’ built on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The city has decided to maintain the current maximum size of over 10,000 sq ft and will allow secondary homes of 3,200 sq ft for farm workers on lots size eight- to 25-hectares.

“Mega mansions on ALR land are imperiling our food security, destroying agricultural land and driving up prices well beyond the reach of young farmers,” said BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in a news release today May 15.

“The provincial government has a number of tools at its disposal that it should immediately use to address the issue of speculation on ALR land,” said Weaver. “These include restricting foreign ownership of ALR land, applying the speculation tax and foreign buyers tax to the ALR, or creating legally binding house size limits. It should use at least one of these immediately to prevent the loss of any more farmland.”

“There is a problem but it’s not just Richmond, this is a problem that’s going across the province,” says BC Agriculture Minster Lana Popham. No changes can be made until a revitalization committee consultation is complete, said Popham.

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and a former Saanich Councillor, added that local governments have been asking the province to take action for years: “This decision at Richmond Council will drive the price of ALR in their community sky high, it will impact the rest of the province and demonstrates the need for action at the provincial level.”

“We knew 10 years ago we needed to take action on limiting house size and location on ALR land, we called on the government of the day to act. We were not alone and rather than take action the Province has buried this issue in consultation only further increasing pressure on the cost of farmland,” says Olsen. “The issue of speculation driving up land prices is well-documented and its solutions are clear. Delaying action only causes the issue to spiral further out of control — last year, Richmond alone lost 50 farms due to the construction of mega-mansions on farmland. I urge the Minister in the strongest terms to recognize to take immediate action before any more farmland is lost.”


Canada playing USA in the 2nd game on Sunday May 13 at Westhills Stadium in Langford. [screenshot]

Sunday, May 13 ~ LANGFORD.  The 2018 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens wrapped up earlier today under sunshine and blue skies, before a packed stadium of 6,070 over the two-day tournament this Mother’s Day weekend at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC.

New Zealand emerged the tournament winner, for their 2nd tournament win on the 5-stop HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

Canada placed 5th today with a decisive win in their final match of the day against Ireland, moving them into 4th place in the Series standings with one tournament remaining in Paris, France on June 8-10.

Playing well for Canada were Charity Williams who four times ran the length of the field and Bianca Farella who got Canada ahead in the 2nd game today. Some crucial mistakes were made in this tournament by Canada’s team Canada Ghislaine Landry (returning from a hamstring injury that saw her sit out the games in Japan in April), including two kicks that fell short of the 10-metre line.

For post tournament coverage and full tournament results visit www.canadasevens.com or www.worldrugby.org

Canada Women’s Sevens team captain Ghislaine Landry in Langford May 13 [screenshot]

“Rugby Canada would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Community of Langford and all the supportive fans who came out to cheer on not only our Canadian women, but all of the outstanding teams that delivered inspiring and entertaining performances throughout the weekend,” said Allen Vansen, CEO, Rugby Canada.

“Congratulations to New Zealand on their well-deserved win, and thank you to all of our partners, sponsors and volunteers for their continued support,” said Vansen.

The HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens will return to Langford next year on May 11 & 12, 2019 for the 5th and final year of the current Series cycle. Rugby Canada is actively bidding for another four years of both the men’s and women’s HSBC Canada Sevens tournaments, and hope to receive approval on their bids by Fall 2018.

The 2018 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens has been a two-day tournament held May 12-13, 2018, hosted at the home of Canadian Rugby at Westhills Stadium in Langford BC, and featured 12 of the world’s top women’s rugby sevens teams on Canadian soil.

The HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens is the fourth stop in a five-stop world tour as part of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. Sevens rugby is a fast-paced and shorter version of traditional rugby with only seven players per side. It has built a huge international audience through the success of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which attracts large audiences in markets around the world.

The 2018 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series kicked off in Dubai on November 30th. Find the entire 5-stop tour at www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series/series-info


Line painting has begun on Vancouver Island [photo – Hwy 14, April 2018 – by West Shore Voice News]

Friday, May 11 ~ BC. Road crews have started line painting throughout the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, with higher-quality glass beads included in the paint formula, so drivers can see brighter, more reflective road lines.

“Road markings need to not only survive, but shine on B.C.’s West Coast, especially at night and in rainy conditions,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The ministry’s top priority is making sure our roads and highways are as safe as possible.

By including larger, higher quality glass beads in our paint mix, it will be easier for people to see our lines when it’s dark and the weather is bad.”

Painting has begun, and this week work is taking place in the Pemberton area, Victoria and Duncan. In total, more than 3,000 km of roads and highways will be painted in the region this year.

Adding glass beads to line paint greatly increases reflectivity. The larger and higher-quality beads to be used in second coats this year in the region will provide 20% more reflectivity than the previous formula.

Also, requests for proposal were recently issued through BCBid for the next Pavement Marking Service Agreements, which will go into effect on December 16, 2018. The following changes are being made to improve on the current agreements:
* 20% more lines painted annually throughout the province
* Use of larger glass beads for increased reflectivity and visibility at night, and thicker paint for longer-lasting pavement marking in coastal areas
* Second coat application in areas that experience premature wear
* Enhanced contractor monitoring and auditing, to maintain consistent performance

There are five pavement marking service areas in the province: Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Thompson-Cariboo, Okanagan-Kootenay and Northern Region. Each of the upcoming pavement marking service agreements, which were last tendered in 2013, are for five-year terms, and include an optional two-year extension.

The ministry works closely with contractors to continually test new paint formulations, and products to ensure that high-performing, environmentally friendly formulations are used in BC.

Private contractors are responsible for repainting more than 20,000 km every year, on highways and provincially owned side roads in BC, using close to one million litres of paint and 500,000 kg of glass beads.

This work starts every spring, and continues through the summer and into the fall.  www.tranbc.ca


 

Thetis Lake Regional Park – Pistol Range Remediation Project (CRD)

Friday, May 11 ~ VICTORIA. CRD Restores Former Pistol Range at Thetis Lake Regional Park to Naturalized Park

The Capital Regional District (CRD) has completed a project to remediate and restore the former pistol range at Thetis Lake Regional Park to naturalized park land.

“This former shooting range site was deemed contaminated under provincial legislation and required remediation due to metals from bullets and casings,” said CRD Parks Committee Chair David Screech. “The CRD has now addressed the contamination,” he said in a news release.

The contaminated site was remediated in 2014. Surface soils were excavated, and soil berms dismantled. Restoration work from 2016-2017 improved surface water drainage and soil conditions. Native grasses, shrubs and over 700 trees were planted. Invasive species plants that had spread from illegal disposal of garden waste were removed and continue to be monitored and controlled while trees get established.

For over 100 years, police forces, security companies and gun clubs used this area as a firing range. The site was transferred from the City of Victoria to the CRD in 1994 as part of Thetis Lake Regional Park. Pistol range activities ceased in 1999. The area contaminated by the activities of the pistol range was 0.75 hectares.

The total cost of the project was $736,000. It was funded through CRD project reserve funds and a $75,000 BC Brownfields Renewal grant.

For current photos of the site, as well as the remediation and restoration, visit www.crd.bc.ca/project/capital-projects/thetis-lake-remediation-project


 

Thursday, May 10 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Island Health Celebrates 4 Wins at UVic Nursing Awards. Island Health nurses go above and beyond every day as they provide excellent health and care to patients, clients and residents on Vancouver Island.

During Nursing Week (May 7 – 13), Island Health is celebrating nurses who also teach and are being recognized for their leadership in training nursing students. The 12th annual UVic Nursing Awards were held last night, May 9, and Island Health staff earned four awards.

Nurse Practitioner Preceptor of the Year Award – Lynn Guengerich, a nurse practitioner in pediatrics from the West Shore Health Unit, and Joanna Rippin, a nurse practitioner from the Victoria Health Unit who works mainly with immigrants and refugees, are the co-recipients of the Nurse Practitioner Preceptor of the Year Award. This award is given to nurse practitioners who have made a significant and substantial contribution to nurse practitioner student learning. Nurse Practitioner preceptors work with student nurse practitioners in a one-on-one setting, and allow the students to gain experience in their education.

Preceptor of the Year Award – Laura McDonald, a nurse at the Saanich Health Unit, was awarded the Preceptor of the Year Award. Laura has been a nurse since 2013. She was recognized as Preceptor of the Year for her excellence in guiding fourth year nursing students to reach the full scope of their training.

Collaborative Learning Unit Award of Excellence – Victoria General Hospital’s 6D north acute medicine unit, led by manager Trapper Edison, won the UVic School of Nursing’s Collaborative Learning Unit Award of Excellence. This award is given to units that exceed expectations in promoting student learning, serve as outstanding role models, foster the student nurse role among colleagues and demonstrate excellence in teaching.

Field Guide of the Year Award – Christina Berlanda, the manager of general surgery, women’s health, breast health and the vascular access team, won the Field Guide of the Year Award. When taking on student nurses, Berlanda is interested in giving them a fulsome experience that includes leadership training.

“On behalf of everyone at Island Health we are proud of our award-winners for their leadership in training nurses of tomorrow,” said Dawn Nedzelski, Island Health’s Chief Nursing Officer and Chief of Professional Practice. “They are outstanding role models and they continue to demonstrate excellence in teaching while delivering quality and exceptional care to our patients, clients and residents.”


 

The Women’s Rugby Sevens team captains at Royal Roads University campus May 10 [West Shore Voice News photo] From left: Brazil, Fiji, England, Spain, Russia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, USA, Ireland, Japan.

Thursday, May 10 ~ WEST SHORE.  The Women’s Rugby Sevens team captains did their official group photo on the croquet lawn at Royal Roads University (RRU) this afternoon, May 10. The afternoon was sunny and a big cloud that threatened rain held off from raining on this parade.

These athletes from 12 countries are by default hosted by the Canadian home team that is based out of Langford. Players are staying at Bear Mountain Resort and the Four Points Sheraton, and getting to see the growing bustling town on their way to the various community appearances this week (at schools around Greater Victoria) and practice sessions at Westhills Stadium in Langford.

“Playing at home is unique for us,” says Canada Women’s Rugby Sevens team captain Ghislaine Landry, as the team is now based entirely out of Langford at the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre in Langford. “It’s exciting to get out in front of the local fans,” she told media after the photo shoot. “We love to live and train here, it’s fun for us,” she said.

Landry explained that there is a “level of pride” to be operating from an established location, saying the centralization of Rugby Canada in the Victoria area started about six years ago.  As Canada’s team captain, Landry ventured to say that when the Women’s Rugby Sevens tournament comes to Langford it’s everyone’s “favourite spot”.

All of the Canadian team players are staying with the other players at the local hotel venues. “It’s part of the tournament experience,” Landry mused.

When asked about what was considered a poor showing for Canada when they played in Japan last month, of course the response was with positive bravado: “This weekend we’ll show that we have trained hard,” said the Canadian team captain.

A bit of tournament analysis by Landry when asked about the competition: “New Zealand and Australia are top teams. And France has a great shot. Spain had a good showing last game.”

The 12 countries that are represented in the Women’s Rugby Sevens circuit are (team captains): Canada (Ghislaine Landry), Australia (Shannon Parry), New Zealand (Sarah Goss), France (Fanny Horta), USA (Nicole Heavirland), Ireland (Lucy Mulhall), Japan (Chiharu Nakamura), Russia (Alena Mikhaltsova), Spain (Barbra Pla), England Abbie Brown), Fiji (Ana Roqica) and Brazil (Raquel Kochhann).

Rain began to fall onto the well-trimmed lawns of the RRU campus outside Hatley Castle in Colwood, just as the media interviews wrapped up.

The 2018 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens tournament will be held at Westhills Stadium in Langford this Mother’s Day weekend, on Saturday May 12 and Sunday May 13.  Tickets are still available to purchase online at www.canadasevens.com/womens . Two day tournament passes are available for $49. Single day tickets for Saturday or Sunday are available for $30 or the group rate of $25 (10 or more tickets purchased). Anyone who uses the code MOMPLUS3 can get four general-admission tickets for the price of three.


 

Kids get some rugby skill-training with Canada Women’s Sevens team captain Ghislane Landry, May 4 at Westhills Stadium [West Shore Voice News photo]

Wednesday, May 9 ~ LANGFORD. So much to do this Mother’s Day weekend in the west shore!

Single-day tickets for the 2018 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens on May 12-13 at Westhills Stadium in Langford can be purchased through www.canadasevens.com or by calling the Ticket Rocket Box Office at 1-855-842-7575 from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

General Admission tickets are $30, with a reduced-price point of $25 for groups of 10 or more, and $35 for select Reserved seating.

In its fourth year at Westhills Stadium in Langford, the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens will also offer a unique promotion in honour of Mothers’ Day on Sunday May 13. Fans can buy three GA tickets and get a fourth ticket free when using the code MOMPLUS3 .

Organizers are encouraging fans to include this weekend of sport and celebration in the family plans this coming Mother’s Day.


 

School playground funding has been announced by the BC Government, with 51 schools getting new playgrounds by Sept 2018.

Tuesday, May 8 ~ VICTORIA. Students at 51 schools in BC will have new playgrounds to use in September, as part of a new playground fund that takes fundraising pressure off parents.

Introduced during a media event by Minister of Education Rob Fleming, the announcement was made by Premier John Horgan at Quadra Elementary in Victoria during the lunch hour with the happy background sound of kids at play.

“All students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise,” said Premier Horgan. “That’s why we’re lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today, and every year moving forward, to build playgrounds where they are needed most.”

“Playgrounds make a real difference, for fitness, long term health care costs, and PAC’s who spend an inordinate amount of time focused on raising money for playgrounds,” Horgan said during the outdoor announcement.

Quadra Elementary (in SD61) will receive $105,000 for an accessible playground. In the west shore, the school getting a fund of $105,000 this year for a playground upgrade is Ecole Poirier Elementary in Sooke (SD62). There is no SD63 (Saanich) school on the list in this first round.

This funding is part of a new, ongoing Playground Equipment Program providing up to $5 million each year to school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment. This year, 26 schools are receiving $90,000 for a standard playground, and 25 schools are receiving $105,000 for a universally accessible playground.

Districts applied for the funding in April 2018. Playgrounds are being funded based on greatest need. Schools currently without a playground got priority, followed by schools where the existing playground is aging. Districts not receiving funding this year are eligible for next year. This year’s list: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Playground_fund.pdf

Basic playground at Ecole Poirier Elementary (2015 photo)

“I’ve heard from parents that they need relief from fundraising tens of thousands of dollars for playground equipment – that’s a lot of bake sales and bottle drives for today’s busy parents,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Today, we’re delivering this fund to help parents, and provide access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the play equipment students need.”

Generally, schools’ parent advisory councils (PACs) have to fundraise large sums of money for new and replacement playground equipment. Schools without that capability are often left without playgrounds. PACs have had to deal with fundraising for a wide range of school needs since cutbacks under the BC Liberal government during the mid-2000s. By this decade, PACs had just resigned themselves to fundraising for things that years ago (and in other provinces) were provided by the government school-funding.

“This new program will alleviate some of the inequities in parent fundraising, and enable PACs to strengthen their advisory and advocacy roles,” said Jen Mezei, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. “Parents have advocated for this for over a decade, and we thank the government for the ongoing commitment. We believe that safe and accessible playgrounds should not be dependent on a school community’s ability to raise funds, and for too long have felt the burden to ensure schools and school communities have safe and engaging play spaces.”

Budget 2018 includes a record $2 billion in school capital funding over the next three years, to invest in building new schools in growing communities, fixing aging schools and making schools safer for students in the event of a large earthquake.

Playgrounds are important for children’s development and learning. They encourage outdoor physical activity, and help students learn how to share, work together, overcome challenges and be creative. Outdoor play can help students focus and learn more effectively in the classroom.

 


 

Belmont Residences sale centre opened May 5, 2018 in Langford [West Shore Voice News photo]

Saturday, May 5 ~ LANGFORD. Under bright sunny skies on Saturday May 5, a steady stream of drop-in visitors came to the Belmont Residences presentation centre on Division Avenue in Langford, 1 to 3 pm.

Otherwise surrounded by the churned-up ground of a construction zone, the sales centre is a bright modern open space, now open six days a week (Mon-Thurs and Sat-Sun), from 12 noon to 5 pm. A three-person sales team will always be on hand.

Appointments are recommended but drop-ins are welcome, says on-site Project Coordinator Cathy Noel.

The sales centre includes a complete 2-bedroom, 2-bath furnished show suite. The layout of the B1 floorplan brings you directly into the kitchen in view of the inline living/dining room area.

About 80% of the 80 units in the Phase 1 of Belmont Residences include the ‘flex room’ says Belmont Residences Sales Director Peter Gaby. There are three different 2-bedroom+flex floorplan styles, says Marcela Corzon, Director of Development, Ledcor Properties Inc.

‘Flex Space’ in 2-bedroom unit at Belmont Residences [West Shore Voice News photo]

The flex space (approx 70 sq ft) is likely to be a popular feature, situated immediately upon entry to the suite. In the show suite it’s set up as a small home office but could be used for a variety of purposes such as sewing room, exercise space, or storage.

Each of the Phase 1 of Belmont Residences condo strata units will have their own vehicle parking space. Natural gas and hot water will be included in the strata fees. Heating is by electric baseboard.

Phase 1 pre-sales start around June 9, with occupancy targeted for the first few months of 2020, says Gaby. Phase 2 will offer 90 condo units, followed by an apartment building with 156 rental units, and later on a few townhomes.


 

Kids try out rugby skills with two of Canada’s Women’s Sevens players: Julia Greenshields (left) and team captain Ghislane Landry. [West Shore Voice News photo, May 4 2018]

Friday, May 4 ~ LANGFORD. For fun and skill-building, about 35 youth from around Greater Victoria took part in a rubgy clinic at Westhills Stadium in Langford on Friday afternoon, May 4. The activity for girls and boys was free. Parents came to watch.

The kids had fun and professional rugby players from Canada Women’s Sevens had a chance to interact with potential new athletes.

And it was a ramp-up to the 2018 HSBC Women’s Sevens Rugby Tournament game coming up May 12-13 at Westhills Stadium by which ticket sales are one way for spectators to donate to KidSport when they purchase tickets online. www.canadasevens.com/womens

The KidSport program helps remove financial barriers to participation in a wide variety of sports, explains KidSport Greater Victoria executive director Jill Shaw. She says that last year two girls were funded by KidSport for their registration in rugby that summer, thanks to donations from ticket-purchasers in May 2017 that amounted to about $500.

“Last year KidSport overall funded a total of $400,000 to pay for sport registrations for 1,400 youth,” said Shaw, out on the Westhills Stadium field on Friday.

Canada Women’s Sevens team captain Ghislane Landry was happy to participate in the youth clinic. “We train so hard, sometimes we forget about the big picture. Activities like today are about growing the grassroots of sport,” Landry told West Shore Voice News. “It’s important to be interacting with the community,” she said before joining a group of eager youth to starting tossing around the rugby ball.

Back on February 27, the new Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre was officially opened on Glen Lake Road behind Westhills Stadium. Landry said at the time that the new home for rugby players would be a boon to the sport. Today she said: “Before, we were spread out across the country. This way we feed off each other and this leads to good things for the program.”

Drills, games and skill-building exercises continued for about an hour in the warmish weather under slightly overcast skies, familiarizing them with the game of rugby. The clinic was open to all interested youth.

The HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens two-day tournament next weekend at Westhills Stadium will feature 12 of the world’s top women’s rubgy seven’s teams. It’s the fourth stop in a five-stop world tour series. Rugby Sevens is a fast-paced, shorter version of traditional rugby with only seven players per side.

The 2018 series kicked off in Dubai at the end of November, followed by Sydney Australia in January 2018, Kitakyushu Japan in April 2018, now Langford next week Sat May 12 and Sun May 13, and finishes up in Paris June 8 to 10. https://www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series-seriesinfo


 

Recreational cannabis products

Monday, April 30, 2018 ~ LANGFORD. The City of Langford will be issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the retail sale of cannabis and related products, open May 1 to June 1. [View this article on its own separate page]

The motion was approved at a Special Council Meeting this evening, April 30. The RFP was prepared in consultation with the City’s lawyers.

Following presentation of a staff report by Langford CAO Darren Kiedyk that included details of the guiding principles for the sale of non-medical cannabis products within the Langford municipality, the motion to go ahead with the cannabis RFP was moved by Councillor Lillian Szpak who heads up the City of Langford Protective Services Committee. Mayor and Council supported the motion.

Council has now directed staff to wait to see how the Province of BC and the Capital Regional District (CRD) will be regulating and enforcing issues of cannabis odour and nuisance prior to granting any temporary use permits that are related to retail sales of cannabis and related products.

On April 30, 2018 at a special council meeting, Langford Council approved the issuance of an RFP for the retail sale of cannabis and related products.

Langford says it expects the provincial government to be outlining remaining details of BC’s non-medicinal cannabis regulatory framework in “the coming months”. The federal government is coursing quickly to a July 1, 2018 cannabis legalization deadline that evolved from promises made during the federal Liberal campaign in 2015.

Langford’s guiding principles for the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use include that businesses selling those products not be located within:
• 500 metres of any other location where the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use has been authorized (with the exception of Goldstream Avenue, where two locations may be considered);
• 300 metres of any school;
• 300 metres of any group daycare;
• 150 metres of Centennial Park, Veterans Memorial Park, City Centre Park, Westhills YMCA, and regional or Provincial park, or any of the three lakes in Langford (Langford, Glen, Florence); • 50 metres of any land zoned R1 (one-family residential) or R2 (one- and two-family residential) except within the city centre.

Potential cannabis retailers will need to provide a proposed plan for financially assisting the City of Langford with policing and bylaw enforcement costs, including the costs of additional training and administration as associated with:

  • Ensuring that the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use in a particular location is in compliance with the regulatory framework and all applicable city bylaws;
  • Minimizing the impact on the neighbourhood of the retail sale of cannabis products for non-medicinal use;
  • Addressing nuisance issues relating to public use of cannabis products for non-medicinal purposes;
  • Addressing impairment issues relating to public use of cannabis products for non-medicinal purposes; and;
  • Providing educational initiatives and materials associated with the above impacts are related social concerns.

 

Saturday, April 28, 2018 ~ LANGFORD. Belmont Residences will welcome the public to their show-home opening on Saturday May 5. The new Belmont Residences development is under construction in Langford.

The opening of their new sales centre will be celebrated at a public event coming up Saturday May 5. The opening will feature a fully-built show home, starting at 1 pm (to 3 pm).

Belmont Residences is a new master-planned, 24-acre, 440-unit multi-phase development. Housing options include 1-bdrm (approx 622 sq ft), 2-bdrm (approx 878 sq ft), & 2-bdrm+flex (approx 1,050 to 1,224 sq ft) homes with prices starting from the low $300,000’s to low $600,000’s.

The 2,500 sq ft Belmont Residences Sales Centre features a site model showcasing one of Langford’s most anticipated new communities and detailed information about the first building. Visitors may tour a fully-furnished 2 bedroom + flex display home.

The public opening will include a preview of the new U-Bike service, which is officially expanding to the City of Langford in partnership with Belmont Residences. Visitors will be invited to grab a bike and explore the nearby neighbourhood, parks, and amenities including the adjacent Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

The sales centre is at 915 Division Avenue (corner of Jenkins Avenue), across from the Westshore Town Centre.
Belmont Residences comprise seven residential market and rental buildings targeting first-time home buyers, working professionals, and downsizers. The development is enhanced by 160,000 sq ft of commercial amenities (being developed by Crombie REIT), including a landmark Thrifty Foods spanning 53,000 sq ft.

Adjacent to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and numerous parks, lakes, and outdoor spaces, Belmont Residences is set to become a vibrant centre for the City of Langford. Calling itself the new heart of the West Shore, Belmont Residences is being seen as the ‘it’ place for those seeking an urban-meets-suburban lifestyle.
The Belmont Club area will include common spaces, kids room, music/craft rooms, and multi-purpose spaces.

[This article first published on page 4 in the April 27, 2018 print/PDF edition of West Shore Voice News]


Creative pill presses.

Thursday, April 25 ~ VICTORIA. In a move against the illegal production of illicit opioids and to help keep them off the streets, the BC Government is toughening its regulations on pill-press machines and other similar pharmaceutical equipment.

The new Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Act is comprehensive legislation that is part of a broader scheme of initiatives intended to help law enforcement address the fentanyl crisis in BC. The bill aims at restricting ownership, possession and use of equipment that can be used to make illicit drugs, such as automated pill presses, gel cap machines and pharmaceutical mixers.

“Police have asked for more control and monitoring of who has use of pill presses,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “This bill is critical in bolstering police efforts to disrupt the supply chain and get counterfeit pills off of the streets and out of the hands of those who recklessly distribute death-dealing drugs.

“The act will limit lawful ownership of pill presses, and other similar pharmaceutical equipment, to individuals or corporations authorized under the legislation. This includes those with a legitimate business or professional purpose, such as production of drugs or natural health food products, those given a waiver to produce other products that rely on this technology and registered pill-press sellers. The act also sets out significant penalties for offences committed in relation to controlled equipment and activities.

BC’s Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Act is more comprehensive than the legislation that was introduced by Alberta and the federal government in 2016. The federal legislation only requires registration of pill or tablet presses and gel cap machines on import into Canada, and there are no limitations on who can own the equipment.

BC’s legislation requires those who want to sell the equipment to register and agree to a criminal record check. There are also notification requirements for when people acquire and dispose of the equipment, as well as powers to appoint inspectors, so that compliance with the legislation can be monitored. All the provisions will make it easier to track where controlled equipment is, and easier to take it out of the hands of those who are not authorized owners.

“We are losing too many people from all walks of life – friends, neighbours and loved ones – whose lives have been tragically cut short by a toxic, illegal drug supply,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We know that no illegal drugs are safe, and introducing this legislation will make it harder for people to produce and distribute illegal drugs. We need to approach this problem from all sides and at all levels to save lives and prevent future tragedies.

“Pill-press machines, and other similar pharmaceutical equipment, can be used to turn illicit drugs, like fentanyl, into counterfeit tablets that are sold on the streets, and are able to churn out thousands of pills per hour.

“The BC Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to see the Province take a leadership role in regulating pill presses and related equipment,” said president of the BCACP and chief constable Del Manak. “This is an important new tool that will be critical in helping us get counterfeit pills off the streets, and will serve as a model for the rest of Canada.

“In addition to this legislation, BC is undertaking action to escalate the response to the overdose crisis, including:

  • creating new dedicated anti-trafficking teams within the provincial RCMP and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit;
  • providing additional resources for all police agencies to support actions against‎ organized crime importers and traffickers, to help stem the flow of fentanyl into BC;
  • increasing support for police-based outreach in communities to proactively reach people who are seen to be high-risk;
  • providing additional funding for the BC Coroners Service to expand the Drug-Death Investigations Team, and meet an increase in workload and lab testing;
  • supplying the City of Surrey with a $175,000 grant to help in their effort to combat the opioid crisis, and to fund collaborative interventions that will help connect vulnerable people to the services they need through new approaches; and
  • investing $322 million in new funding and launching the Overdose Emergency Response Centre to combat the overdose crisis and spearhead urgent action to save lives.

The Province will continue to work on a multi-pronged strategy targeted at gangs, drug traffickers and importers to get deadly drugs off the streets, and remains committed to addressing some of the core causes of the opioid crisis, including homelessness, poverty, trauma and the need for improved enforcement.


 

Deliberate vehicle attack on pedestrians in a highly populated area of north Toronto on April 23 2018 [Canadian Press photo]

Monday, April 23 ~ TORONTO. A deliberate vehicle attack upon pedestrians along a major street in the North York area of Toronto has left nine people dead and 16 injured. 

[Update at 5:45 pm April 23: 10 fatalities, 15 injured]

[Update at 10 am April 24: 10 counts of 1st degree murder against the driver of the van, 13 counts of attempted murder; the 15 injured are in three hospitals — Sunnybrook, North York General, and St Michael’s]

[Update evening April 24:  officials have updated their numbers as released to the public: 10 fatalities, 14 injured. The distance of the incident as travelled by the van was 2 km. The officer who made the arrest is Cst Ken Lam]

The incident along a highly populated and active commercial office/retail area of a 3km stretch of Yonge Street between Finch Ave and Sheppard Ave saw a man in a rented van appearing to plow down pedestrians at random. The incident occurred around 1:30 pm EDT (10:30 am PDT) on a sunny day.

There were multiple eyewitnesses who have spoken to TV media, describing the incident in various aspects including the actual impact scenario.

Ten of the injured were taken to nearby Sunnybrook Hospital — two were found to be deceased at arrival, and eight are in hospital (five in critical condition, three in serious condition). The identities of the injured and deceased have not been released, but there is a Family Information Line that people possibly related to the victims and injured can call to find out more: 416-480-4940

Investigator at the scene of the vehicle attack on pedestrians in north Toronto, April 23 2018. [photo from web]

The threat level in Canada remains at medium. This is not considered to be an organized attack. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the terror threat level hasn’t changed (since October 2014, put into effect apparently just days before the attack at Parliament Hill in Ottawa). Medium threat level indicates that a violent act of terrorism could occur (low level would mean possible but unlikely).

Name of the alleged attacker (driver of the rental van used in the attack) is Alek Minassian, 25. He is a student at Seneca College in the Toronto area, as reported by CBC News today.

Government leaders at all levels have addressed citizens through TV media, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory. People are asked not to go to that area. Businesses were asked to close for the rest of the day.

Investigators are on scene. Some bodies remained on the sidewalk under orange covering, while investigators made their way around the incident area.


 

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver today on CTV’s Question Period (screenshot), April 22 2018

Sunday, April 22 ~ BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has issued the following statement for Earth Day:

“Earth Day encourages us to appreciate the natural environment in all its forms, but it also reminds us of the responsibility we have to ensure the health of our planet.

“The theme for this year’s Earth Day campaign is ending plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is visible close to home in BC; it marks our beaches, landfills and lives. If you are interested in learning more, getting involved, or signing the Earth Day Network petition, we encourage you to visit www.earthday.org . We have committed to ending plastic pollution in our office and everyday lives by using reusable coffee cups and staying away from plastic straws!

“We would also like to acknowledge the incredible beauty and diversity of British Columbia as a whole. As BC Green MLAs, the mission of Earth Day to promote environmental sustainability underlies all our work. We continue to work hard every day to champion evidence-based policies that will enable British Columbians to enjoy our unparalleled beautiful natural environment for generations to come.”


 

Colwood Councillor Rob Martin

Sunday, April 22 ~ COLWOOD. Colwood Councillor Rob Martin (a 2018 mayoralty candidate) is challenging the municipality’s OCP process. Martin will be requesting at Colwood Council on Monday April 23 to allow a late addition agenda item that will put forward a motion to suspend the future Official Community Plan (OCP) process until after the October municipal election.

“The building of the new Official Community Plan has been a 2-year process that falls perfectly within the window of the next municipal election period. This is an excellent time for the community, through the election process, to decide how Colwood will look and grow moving forward for the next decade,” said Rob Martin this weekend. “I believe there are some philosophical and policy decisions that need to be highlighted and debated in the coming election. By postponing the future OCP process to after the election, this will allow candidates to deliver their vision of Colwood’s future,” he said.

“Staff have worked hard developing our newest OCP,” says Martin. He calls the OCP  “a collaboration of input from the political, public and staff”. However, Martin says that as he continues to have numerous meetings with members of the community ” it appears that significant changes are needed to the draft OCP”.  He says: “These are political decisions which the Mayor and Council should be debating during this election cycle.”

The development community was represented by development consultant Mark Holland at earlier council meetings, expressing first generally and then in great detail about various aspects of the OCP that would contribute to housing unaffordability in Colwood at it grows forward.


 

Royal Roads University gets fund to help Langford develop post-secondary options [West Shore Voice News photo – April 2018]

Sunday, April 22 ~ LANGFORD. Improved access to post-secondary education and training for people living in the fast-growing west shore and Sooke communities will be explored by developing a community solution, the BC Government announced this week. [View this article on its own HTML page]

“I’m excited that we’re engaging with community partners to improve access to post-secondary education and training,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

For this project, Royal Roads University (RRU) will receive $250,000 from the province on behalf of the three public post-secondary institutions on southern Vancouver Island. RRU has been charged with managing the development of a report for potential program delivery options in Langford, based on need.

RRU is the appropriate choice to lead the study, says RRU President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Cahoon. RRU has a successful track record for offering a unique, applied, demand-responsive, ‘change maker’ approach in its academic model.

“I welcome the ministry funding and opportunity to work with other post-secondary institutions and community partners in the region,” says Cahoon. Community partners for this initiative include students and parents, Sooke School District 62 (SD62), West Shore municipalities, Royal Roads University, Camosun College, the University of Victoria and First Nations. The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training will also be involved in the local planning process.

Cahoon sees the initiative leading to the creation of a solution that meets the post-secondary educational needs of fast-growing west shore which includes Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, Highlands and View Royal.“This is about supporting a community need with a collaborative approach and innovative solution. That’s a net gain for everyone, especially for students and families,” he said this week.

In 2017, the west shore area had an estimated population of about 74,000, while Sooke has a population nearing 14,000. For the City of Langford (itself with a population over 40,000) the annual average population growth rate over the last 10 years was 4.7%, making it one of the fastest growing regions in BC.

“We need to guarantee easy affordable access for our students to post secondary education,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young. “The west shore and Sooke are 19% below the average for students transferring on to university and we must remove the barriers and find the solution to get more students from Langford and westshore area to enroll in post secondary,” he said this week.

“We’ve been looking at ways to advance the delivery of post-secondary education and training to programs in the west shore for a number of years,” said Mayor Young. “It makes a lot of sense to give students pursuing a post-secondary education the opportunity to do that in the community they live in.”

“Giving our students the ability to transition to post-secondary education or training, while continuing to live in their home community, is a great option,” said SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge. “Students can stay in a familiar place where they are comfortable, continue working locally and potentially save money by living at home,” said Cambridge.

Not all Grade 12 grads go on to post-secondary right away. As of 2013-2014, the provincial average of Grade 12 grads going directly into post-secondary in September following their June graduation was 49.7% while SD62 only saw a 38% transfer rate.

According to BC Ministry of Education stats, after two or three years (for employment, travel or life in between), there is also a significant number of high school grads who return to the education system in post-secondary.


 

Sunday, April 22 ~ GREATER VICTORIA. The Capital Regional District (CRD) has launched a new set of climate action activity kits in partnership with the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL). Climate Action To-Go Kits are available in all 12 branches of the GVPL as well as the Sooke, Sidney/North Saanich and Port Renfrew branches of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, the Salt Spring Island Public Library and the Camosun College Library.

Available to borrow from libraries across the region, these take-home kits contain a range of practical tools and activities that will help residents learn about and take action on climate change in their everyday lives.

“Our Climate Action To-Go program is a highly interactive way for residents to better understand how their household can reduce energy use and prepare for the realities of climate change in the future,” says CRD Director Judy Brownoff, chair of the region’s Environmental Services Committee. “Earth Day is the perfect time to re-launch these kits in our region, building on the past success of this program with a number of new tools focused on transportation and climate adaptation.”

Each updated Climate Action To-Go Kit gives residents the opportunity to:
• Measure their home’s optimal lighting using a digital illuminance light meter
• Measure their household’s appliance electricity use with a Kill-A-Watt meter
• Discover air leaks in walls and around windows using a thermal leak detector
• Tune up a bike or track steps while learning about local active transportation routes
• Test showerhead water efficiency
• Learn about expected climate changes while preparing for both adaptation and emergencies

“These kits provide the public with free tools and information to monitor—and ultimately adjust—the consumption of valuable resources,” says Maureen Sawa, CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library. “They connect learning with action.”


 

Wednesday, April 18 ~ VICTORIA. Today in Victoria, Premier John Horgan announced his government’s new Building BC Community Housing Fund with an investment price tag of $1.9 billion.  The funding is for building 14,000 new rental homes throughout BC to help make housing more affordable for seniors, families, and low- and middle-income seniors.

“Too many people struggling to find a place to live,” said Premier Horgan, with a further explanation that improved housing opportunities also helps businesses because then employees can find places to live. As a way of putting the new funds into context, Horgan said that this is “not about building individual condos, stratas, or a house but a systematic and methodical plan” to help those with middle incomes, who are homeless, and “those who are struggling to make ends meet”.

The announcement was made along with Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, on Wilson Street in the VicWest area of the Victoria core. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps was on hand to support the announcement as well where new housing will be built. The project has three target components: 30% of the units will be for households with moderate incomes, 50% for low-to-moderate income at market-driven rent levels, and 20% for low income on deeper subsidy (such as income assistance).

“It will capture the continuum of housing needs in the community,” said Premier Horgan, adding that it’s first time that the coop housing sector can access funding. Horgan identified Pacifica Housing, M’akola Housing, and communities (municipalities) with new opportunities now to meet the broad range of needs.

“We’re building British Columbia by investing in homes for people who live and work in our communities,” said Premier Horgan. “Fixing the housing crisis is not just about ownership. It’s about making sure that British Columbians who rent rather than own can find homes they can afford and have a future in.”

The $1.9 billion investment over 10 years is set to deliver safe, secure and affordable housing for BC renters. This housing will be built through partnerships with municipalities, non-profits and co-ops.

“People are struggling in the midst of this housing crisis. We need to do everything we can to make housing more affordable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through the Community Housing Fund, people who have been squeezed out of the tight rental market will be able to find a place to call their own, so they can stay in their community.”

BC Housing is issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) to identify prospective partners, including non-profit societies, housing co-operatives and municipalities, that want to develop and operate mixed-income rental housing projects.

“Providing new affordable rentals for low- to moderate-income families and individuals keeps them living and working in our city,” said City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “We look forward to working with the Province on developing new, affordable housing for the city.”

Projects will be prioritized based on a number of criteria, including targeted clients and the impact the project would have in reducing the community’s affordable rental housing need.

“Non-profit housing providers have been anxiously awaiting this day – the launch of a historic investment in affordable housing,” said Dean Fortin, executive director, Pacifica Housing. “We all know the fundamental importance of decent housing to enable the building of strong and resilient families and children and how important quality housing is to individuals in determining a quality of life every citizen deserves.”

Each project built under the Building BC: Community Housing Fund will reflect the following mix of incomes:
* 30% of the units will be for households with moderate incomes. These are defined as household incomes up to $71,200 for homes with fewer than two bedrooms, or up to $104,000 for homes with two or more bedrooms.
* 50% of the units will be for low- to moderate-income households. These are defined as household incomes below the Housing Income Limits, which range from $21,000 to $95,000, depending on the community and the unit size.

Housing Income Limits represent the income needed to pay the average market rent. Average rents are derived from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) annual Rental Market Survey.

Rents for these units will be targeted at the CMHC definition of affordability, at or below 30% of the household income. 20% of the units will be for households with low incomes.  Households requiring a deeper level of subsidy, such as those receiving income assistance. These are incomes below $15,000 to $30,000, depending on unit size.

Budget 2018 launched the biggest investment in housing affordability in BC history: more than $7 billion over 10 years. The Province has set an overall target of creating 114,000 new homes, including affordable market rental, non-profit, co-op, supported social housing and owner-purchase housing through partnerships.

LINK: Homes for B.C.: 30-point plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf


Otter Point Road (west of Sooke) to see $2.5 to $3 million in improvements [West Shore Voice News photo – April 2018]

Sunday, April 15 ~ SOOKE. More funds for road improvements in the Premier’s riding! 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) will upgrade approximately 2 km of Otter Point Road, a key access point for Highway 14 (Sooke Road), and an important alternative route when the highway is closed.

“Over my years as MLA, I have heard many safety concerns from the community about Otter Point Road and many suggestions on how to make it better for people. These upgrades will help keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians moving safely,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca in a news release.

The project and its funding of $2.5 to $3 million was announced by Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (JDFEA) Director Mike Hicks on behalf of Premier Horgan at the AGM of the Otter Point, Shirley and Jordan River Ratepayers Association (OPSRRA) today April 15 at the JdF Services Building in Otter Point.

More intersection upgrades, passing opportunities, improvements for transit, highway shoulder widening and alignment improvements are under development in consultation with the community. Existing lanes will be resurfaced and lanes will be widened wherever possible for cyclist/pedestrian safety, said Ryan Evanoff, Operations Manager, MOTI, at the Otter Point AGM today. The cost to move utility poles is a large part of the project cost, Evanoff told the 30 people in attendance at the AGM. He added that there are no “property take” costs (no private lands will be required or purchased to compete these road improvements).

The proposed improvements will widen and pave approximately 2km of Otter Point Road between the municipal boundary and Kemp Lake Road. Once survey and design work is complete, the ministry will provide an estimated project cost and schedule for the construction of these improvements.

“Community input has been vital to enabling the ministry to get to work quickly on planning work for safety improvements on Otter Point Road, and I look forward to continuing this engagement on more essential upgrades to the Highway 14 corridor,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena.

The Otter Point Road project funding and project work is in addition to the suite of Highway 14 corridor improvements that were first announced in January (i.e. transit pullouts and a queue jump lane, safety signs, new Gillespie Road 2-lane bridge, Sooke River Road intersection upgrade, Muir Creek slow-moving vehicle pullout, and Sombrio rest area).

Work will get underway once the list of specific improvement requirements and possibilities are finalized, said Evanoff.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his office on Sunday April 15 with BC Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. [photo on web]

Sunday, April 15 ~ OTTAWA. “The Prime Minister is taking over the file, Ottawa will be the lead,” said BC Premier John Horgan this morning around 9:25 am (PDT), as he addressed media in Ottawa after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

The Trans Mountain pipeline will go ahead, but it sounds like with stricter conditions in the Oceans Protection Plan which Horgan pushed hard for.  In particular, those protections would be about cleaning up any spills of diluted bitumen.

Legislative and financial measures will be brought forward by the federal govt in the days ahead, said Horgan. Prime Minister Trudeau is scheduled to address media shortly (10 am PDT).

Horgan said that “all three parties to this morning’s discussion have common values on a whole range of issues”. He said he gives “full credit to Trudeau for bringing Premier Notley and I together.”

Seeing not much room for more he can do on the pipeline file, Horgan turned comments to his mainstay governance in BC: “My concerns are for the people of BC, including balancing the budget over the next two years and delivering services for people,” said Horgan. He articulated overall lifestyle affordability and the importance of affordable accessible child care.


Sunday, April 15 ~ OTTAWA. BC Premier John Horgan is about to make a statement to the media (8:30 am PDT) about his conversation this morning with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, about the Trans Mountain pipeline project.   West Shore Voice News is attending (teleconference) live. More to come.


 

Saturday, April 14 ~ NATIONAL. 

[Editorial] In the hot seat this Sunday will be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Thursday he had headed off to Lima, Peru for a long-planned trip to represent Canada at the Summit of the Americas. But brewing here at home is a calamity that is ready to boil over.

BC and Alberta are at loggerheads over the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline (project activity now suspended to May 31 by its corporate owner Kinder Morgan), and their political positions seem immovable now.

The remarkable people skills that Trudeau has exhibited in other high profile situations (e.g. the much-noted in-control handshake with Trump at the White House last year) will probably be put to their greatest test yet in this, his first term in office. How does one get two NDP Premiers to capitulate even an inch from their understandably entrenched positions that are essential for political survival past their own first terms in office — John Horgan to protect the natural environment that is the soul of BC, and Rachel Notley to resurrect the oil-rich economy of Alberta.

The private meeting on Sunday April 15 at 10 am EDT in Trudeau’s office at Parliament Hill will be relatively short, as media will be addressed by Premier Horgan at 11 am EDT (8 am Pacific) and by Trudeau at 1 pm EDT, followed by Trudeau’s departure to Paris, France at 2 pm. pm.

The fact that Trudeau announced the relatively awkward shift in his itinerary literally moments before he boarded the plane in Ottawa on his way to South America on Thursday, somehow indicates the difficulty he had in making a decision about how to finally step into the pipeline issue boxing ring. Trudeau has been criticized of late for remaining passive while Alberta and BC duked it out in Alberta’s brief trade war tactics and BC’s sidestep move to let the courts decide.

Among media who follow the PM’s daily itinerary, there was puzzled chatter about why he took a ‘personal day’ off mid-week, ahead of his trip. Given Trudeau’s load, a day off ahead of a long international trip for contemplation about larger issues is not unreasonable. In fact, it shows good judgement and a deeper awareness of how significant the BC-Alberta issue is, than people give him credit for.

The BC-Alberta crisis leans close to being a constitutional one, over and above the significant impacts for politics in BC and Alberta and for the Canadian economy (jobs and investor confidence). That’s enough of a challenge to tackle. But Canadians may also witness the ‘Ottawa summit’ of western NDP premiers with their prime minister as a moment in which Trudeau demonstrates his most masterful problem-solving yet.

These are tough times for leading Canada — NAFTA negotiations with the Trump-led USA, taking a bit of a back seat in the USA-led attack on Syria Friday night, legalizing cannabis in a somewhat frenzied hurry, and a true housing affordability crisis. On top of this, brokering a successful outcome from his meeting with Horgan and Notley would be a helpful shining star in Trudeau’s leadership cap.

Read this Editorial on its own HTML page.


 

Friday, April 13 ~ INTERNATIONAL. This evening Friday April 13 at 9 pm Eastern Daylight Time (6 pm Pacific), the Pentagon announced that the US military together with the UK and France as Allies, had this evening launched a targeted missile strike on chemical weapon research and development sites as well as command post locations in Syria.

US Military officials said that targets were chosen that would minimize risk to innocent civilians – which likely means not having destroyed actual stores of chemical weapons.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has issued the following statement today on airstrikes in Syria: “Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons in last week’s attack in eastern Ghouta, Syria. Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people. We will continue to work with our international partners to further investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Those responsible must be brought to justice.”‎

The aim of the strike was to deter the Syrian regime from using or producing more chemical weapons. The most recent chemical agents used in an attack in Syria this week were determined to have included the use of chlorine, and possibly the nerve gas sarin.

The US Military told media that more information would be provided tomorrow morning, April 14, approx 9am Eastern Time.

[This summary compiled from watching live coverage of the Pentagon’s media conference and followup live news commentary on CBC TV, and the Prime Minister’s website.]


 

A hockey stick adorned with the green-and-yellow colours of the Humboldt Broncos rests near the entry to the sports-friendly Bear Mountain Resort in Langford, BC. [West Shore Voice News photo – April 10, 2018]

Thursday, April 12 ~ NATIONAL. Worldwide attention has been paid all week to the tragic crash of a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team. Of the 29 passengers on the bus, 16 died.

The bus collided with a semi-trailer unit include 10 players, the bus driver, two coaches, the athletic therapist, a volunteer statistician and a broadcaster. The truck driver had two weeks driving experience for driving a truck of that size. The driver of the semi was not injured but is now receiving trauma counselling.

RCMP had initially indicated 14 fatalities having occurred as a result of the Friday April 6 crash. But by the next afternoon, police said in a news release that another person had died (due to a mixup in identities by medical personnel). This week, on Wednesday April 11, athletic therapist Dayna Brons, 26, who had been injured in the crash, died in hospital. She had been the only woman on the bus.

The 13 others on the bus were injured, some of them critically. At least one has a broken back and will not be able to walk, but he is already talking about taking up Paralympic hockey.

The first funeral of more to come was held today April 12 in Humboldt.

A crowd-source funding page on Go Fund Me — for victims and those impacted by the crash — is at https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos .

The page was started by a hockey mom with the Humboldt Broncos Jr Hockey Association Inc within hours of the crash. Now just over five days later, the $4 million goal on that page has been immensely exceeded, reaching $9,888,498 by about 3 pm PDT.

There have been 117,258 donors contributing to the support fund as of this afternoon. The list includes families, individuals, hockey clubs and sports teams, businesses (including a bank branch, car dealerships and travel agency, a couple of Tim Hortons franchises, health associations and schools, professionals including a financial services company and the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and the Toronto & Area Road Builders Association.

The donations made today range from $5 to $5,000. Most are in the $20 to $250 range. Many are made in a person’s name but some are anonymous whether the amounts are large and small.

Hockey sticks are being laid to rest against walls, porches and public places. It’s a gesture of empathy and support has been adopted worldwide following this tragedy, showing support for the families, friends and team-sport community that has been impacted by the crash. Today April 12 people were asked to wear hockey jerseys to demonstrate their support.

Weather conditions were bright and clear on the day of the accident. But the corner at Hwy 35 and Hwy 335 in northern Saskatchewan has been considered by locals for years to be a dangerous one due to crossing management (a stop sign for one highway but through-traffic for the other) and a tall stand of old-growth trees that might be found to have blocked the sightlines for traffic from one or both directions.


 

Brand new bus pullout on Highway 14 (Sooke Rd) at Laidlaw Road was incorrectly sized. Contractor asked to remove and start again. [West Shore Voice News – April 8, 2018]

Monday, April 9 ~ SOOKE. All six bus pullouts that have been under construction for several weeks along Highway 14 to/from Sooke are now in a temporary phase of deconstruction. Then to be rebuilt. The cost to make revision is about $90,000. About 10 cm in height was incorrectly measured in the height of the bus pullout feature.

The contractor and design team have been asked to identify how this error occurred. The pullouts are to be restored to meet accessibility standards for all transit users.

The necessary road widening for these pullouts has been completed at all three bus pullout locations — 1 pad on each side of the highway at West Shore Parkway, Laidlaw Road, and Harbourview Road.

The pullouts are for the purpose of allowing buses to move fully out of the way of traffic. It’s one measure that the BC Government feels will help reduce interruptions in vehicle traffic flow on Highway 14, as first announced by Premier John Horgan in Sooke on January 19. Horgan is MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is pretty much the one way in and out of the town of Sooke, population about 13,000. At least 70% of Sooke residents leave Sooke daily for employment and post-secondary in more central regions of Greater Victoria.

The BC Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure (MOTI) says: “It was discovered that the elevation of the concrete pads for the bus shelters was a bit too high. The discrepancy in height is quite small (less than 10 cm), but there is still potential for the curb to be bumped by the bus bumpers when using the pullouts.”

Installation of bus pullouts and shelters will be done April 16 to 27 along Hwy 14 (Sooke Rd). Photo: West Shore Voice News April 2018

“The Ministry explored all possibilities for addressing the concern with the pads, and determined that the best option for getting the pullouts operational as quickly as possible is to remove and rebuild the concrete pads at a lower height,” it was confirmed today by MOTI.

“The bus pullouts are still expected to be completed and ready for use this spring as originally announced.”

Roadside marquee signage shows April 16 to 27 as the traffic-interruption dates during bus pullout reconstruction.

Those signs have been up for at least two weeks, so this problem only discovered after the six pullouts were completed.

“A number of groups were involved in design and construction, and the ministry continues to work with them to determine the cause of the issue and address the resulting cost increase,” says MOTI.


 

“Own or rent: caught in between”
Housing Analysis by West Shore Voice News
First published in our April 6, 2018 print/pdf/subscriber edition
=====================================

With the continued price increases in the Greater Victoria housing market combined with stricter mortgage-borrowing requirements, a chunk of would-be buyers are deliberately prevented from becoming homeowners. In the financial world it’s referred to as ‘cooling the housing market’.

That strategy ends up targeting those at the cusp of home ownership … first-time buyers, and the home sellers with lower-end properties that appeal to the entry-level buyers. Individuals and families in that sector are generally the ones who can least afford the costs associated with the risks and overhead costs of dealing with real estate transactions.

Costs include legal fees, Realtor commissions, property purchase tax, and extended dual costs while waiting for homes to sell — like higher rates for vacant home insurance and requiring the cash flow for temporary renting or couch-surfing in the meantime (which contributes to productivity loss and lifestyle stress).

The big chill served to hurt that vulnerable sector of would-be buyers and entry-level homesellers who literally live on the edge of the market — in or out of homeownership, which will it be?

Last fall and in early 2018, as the list price of lower-end homes frequently dropped in order to find buyers who could qualify, those who tried to make the most of having owned a home may have suffered the most.
With qualification for mortgage financing becoming tougher, these previous homeowners often now end up as renters — and usually at the top end of the renter food chain where houses rent for as much as $2,500 per month in Greater Victoria or more. That may be the only portion of the rental market with a relatively higher vacancy rate, due to the price point.

Seeking input from resources like www.readytorentbc.org where their goal is to help with housing stability and successful tenancies, or dealing directly with a property management firm, are two ways to manouevre in the complex waters of housing decisions for those who will not ever, or cannot now, afford to buy.

FEATURE ADVERTISERS [West Shore & Sooke]:
>> George Holmes, Sutton Advantage Property Management – 250-216-4684
>> Clive & Kirsten Greenaway, Greenaway Realty – 778-352-4771


 

Trans Mountain Pipeline construction at Burnaby.

Sunday, April 8 ~ BC. Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was put on hold today April 8 as Kinder Morgan Canada suspended all non-essential activities and related spending on the project in the face of mounting opposition from both the government of British Columbia and environmental protesters.

Kinder Morgan said its decision is based largely on the BC government’s legal challenges to the pipeline and the need to protect its shareholders. The company will consult with various stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements by May 31, 2018.

BC Premier John Horgan issued a statement around 4:30 pm this afternoon, regarding Kinder Morgan’s decision to suspend non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion project:

BC Premier John Horgan

“British Columbians expect their government to stand up for their interests and our coast, and to do everything we can to protect our land and waters, our coastal communities and our local economies. The federal process failed to consider BC’s interests and the risk to our province. We joined the federal challenge, started by others, to make that point. We believe we need to grow the economy, while protecting the environment. We want to work to address these challenges together. But we will always stand up for British Columbians, our environment and the thousands of jobs that depend on our coast.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government would consider taking on an equity stake in the pipeline if Kinder Morgan investors are considering backing away. “If we have to, Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built,” said Notley, without discussing the dollar value of such a significant investment.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seemingly been waiting for the cards to fall one way or another, today federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr issued a statement: “The government of Canada calls on Premier Horgan and the BC government to end all threats of delay to the Trans Mountain expansion. His government’s actions stand to harm the entire Canadian economy.”


Saturday, April 7 ~ SASKATCHEWAN. Junior hockey team in crash: 15 fatalities.  Mid-afternoon on Friday April 6 a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was hit by a semi-trailer truck in northern Saskatchewan (about 300 km north of Regina). Of 29 people on the bus, 15 died: 10 players (ages 16 to 21), the bus driver, two coaches, a volunteer statistician and a broadcaster. The other 14 were injured.

As of 9:15 pm on April 7 a GoFundMe page at https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos had raised $2,743,903 of their $4 million goal (raised by 40,705 people in one day) to help support families of the victims. Additionally, WestJet has offered Bronco hockey family members assistance getting to Saskatoon by plane.

The Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team was on their way to a playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks in northeastern Saskatchewan.

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy recalled to TV media about a team — oddly enough also with a Broncos name (Swift Current Broncos) — that in 1986 had a bus accident in which four of his teammates were killed. His team’s bus had hit a patch of ice and crashed while the hockey team was en route to Regina. Kennedy said the collective trauma is far-reaching and residual.


 

 

 

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